Bruce Willis’s Speech Affected by Frontotemporal Dementia, ‘Moonlighting’ Director Says

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Director Glenn Gordon Caron, who created the ’80s hit series Moonlighting with Cybill Shepherd, in which Willis started as a star, says that the actor is not entirely verbal and can only communicate through short, jumbled sentences. Caron tries to visit Willis every month and believes the Die Hard star recognizes him, but he needs help to use his previous language skills. Caron spoke with the New York Post this week as he announced that Moonlighting has finally been released for streaming on Hulu. Caron tries to see Willis about once a month and maintains a casual relationship with the star’s three children with ex-wife Demi Moore, Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah.

Back in March 2022, the family of the action star announced that he would be stepping away from acting because he had been diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that can affect a person’s speech. Later, Willis’ family clarified that the 67-year-old had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. This is a general term that refers to a group of disorders caused by the loss of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. There are various types of the disease, but the one that has affected Willis is behavior variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD).

While it’s unclear if Willis understands what he is saying when he speaks, the star’s blended family has been open about their support since he was first diagnosed with aphasia. His close friends, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Liam Neeson, supported the actor.

According to a letter posted by Willis’ family on social media last May, the actor had hoped that his decision to take retirement from acting could help raise awareness about frontotemporal dementia. “If this attention can be focused on shining a light on a disease that so many people, both in and out of the public eye, are facing right now, we can all be helped,” the letter read.

In the New York Post piece, Caron reflected on his friend’s health and said that Willis, who enjoyed life so much, has stopped because of his progressive disease. He said he has been left feeling like a prisoner of his own body and mind, but that doesn’t mean the star doesn’t appreciate the people around him. “When he is with his kids, he is pleased,” Caron said. “He’s a wonderful guy.” He added that he hopes bringing the show to Hulu will give fans of Willis’ witty dialogue and fast-paced banter something to enjoy. It’s unclear when Willis will be able to speak in his former lucidity again, but Caron is glad the show will be available for those who miss it.

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